FWISD board cuts off mic of parent whose child was left at the wrong bus stop

Isaac Windes/iwindes@star-telegram.com

Angry parents briefly shut down the September meeting of the Fort Worth school board Tuesday after a parent tried to play an audio recording and had her microphone cut off.

The speaker was one of several parents speaking out against the district’s transportation department after several incidents of school bus drivers leaving students at the wrong stops, sometimes neighborhoods away from their homes.

The audio recording was of children crying, but it was not clear the context since the audio was quickly cut off.

Joe Palmer, a regular critic of the district, used his public comment to lambaste the district for the way it handled the comments.

“What I saw you do tonight ... is reprehensible,” he said. “We saw staff unilaterally cutting a microphone. Her child was dropped off at the wrong damn location ... and her microphone was cut off. This is a public meeting.”

Incident follows apology from district

Fort Worth school district transportation staff sent out apologies last week to parents after video captured a driver forcing children to get off the bus at the wrong stop, KTVT-TV reported.

Students from Daggett Elementary on Sept. 16 were dropped off nearly half a mile away from their homes on the city’s south side, on the other side of busy Hemphill Street, the station reported.

Jeff Williams, one of the parents, told the Star-Telegram in a social media message that his 8- and 9-year-old daughters were crying on the side of the road in the wrong neighborhood after they were forced off the bus by a driver.

He also spoke out at the meeting and was seen following Superintendent Angélica Ramsey into another room after the meeting was briefly recessed.

During his comments, the lights in the board room were turned off, in an apparent mistake.

Following the outcry by parents in the audience, board president Tobi Jackson gave a warning to the audience against speaking out of turn, adding that they could be removed for speaking out again, citing board policy.

Another parent saw the children dropped off in the original incident and gave them a ride home, the Star-Telegram previously reported.

The school district told KTVT-TV it was conducting an investigation into what happened and that the bus driver was a substitute who is no longer driving the route. Parents told the station that administrators at the school were aware of the repeated problems with bus drivers forcing children off buses at the wrong stops and that on Sept. 19 an assistant principal rode the bus with students to make sure they were let off the bus at the right stops.

Parents called for the district to remove transportation officials, who they say have given excuses without answers about how the incidents occurred.

Ramsey, who was absent from the rest of public comment as she met with the parents, said she was hoping to connect with parents as the district’s newest leader.

The September meeting was her first at the helm of the district.